I include a further post from the Rev Mike Goss of day two Sunday and day three Monday of the Assembly. Many thanks to everyone who prayed for me during the service on Sunday morning in Greyfriars . I was introduced as “Rev Ian MacDonald minister of Tarbert ARGYLL ” ! It was good to meet some fellow Gaels in the city and have lunch with them. My native dialect was identified by one couple who came up to me afterwards and asked if I was from Uig OR Bernera ! (Matthew 26:73) ” Thy speech betrayeth thee! ” . My text for the service was Marcus 16:3.
ASSEMBLY NOTES – DAYS 2&3 – SUNDAY AND MONDAYNewspaper headlines were full of statements that Gay Marriage had now been approved by the General Assembly – while a long way from the full picture, it indicates the kind of confusion about the Church’s position as far as wider society is concerned. Many Ministers will be having to seek to explain the Church’s decision to their congregations on Sunday, and Elders, Ministers and Deacons to the Kirk Sessions on which they serve.
Please pray for them – and for the many members who will be wrestling with the issue in their own lives and wondering how to answer the questions of folk outside the Church or in other denominations. CFS will continue to speak up for Biblical truth and the reformation of the Church in the public arena and in the life of the Church.
Sunday afternoon saw the Heart & Soul event in Princes Street Gardens – thousands gathered once more, a lot of good Christian witness, and the opportunity to meet up with friends while wandering among the exhibitions. Speaking personally, I find this a massive improvement on the Garden Party and a much better way to show-case the life of the Church in the heart of the city.
Following Communion on Monday morning, the Assembly moved on to the World Mission Council report. Congregations were encouraged to send a representative to a conference on the theme of care for creation planned in collaboration with others. This should be a serious issue for involvement from all wings of the Church.
The report was punctuated with contributions from delegates and visitors from around the world, particularly on the tragedy of South Sudan, where a glimmer of hope can be seen at this time. A delegate from Lebanon spoke of the torture and killing of Christians in his homeland. The Assembly also encouraged congregations and presbyteries to hold a 24th of the month event to learn about, and pray for, the work of partners in the Holy Land.
The work of CrossReach – the Social Care Council – was the next report, highlighting the work that had been done to get close to balancing the budget, but also the need for more than a million pounds to meet the costs of the National Living Wage from October. It is clear that this work is hugely respected by the whole Church, and the scale of the care provided is larger than any other social care agency in Scotland, second only to entire state sector as a whole.
Monday closed with the report of the Panel on Review and Reform. Some discussion on the possibility of broadening out those who might preside at sacraments was met with initial rejection by Rev Prof Iain Torrance, Convener of the Theological Forum, but several speeches and motions later in the debate clearly showed that the Assembly expected the Forum to be much more open-minded in its consideration of the issue.
The main work of the Panel continues to be the Path of Renewal process which it hopes will bring change to the way congregations and ministries work throughout the Church over a period of many years.